Lago di Garda (Garda Lake) is the biggest of all northern italian lakes. This is a fascinating place for many reasons, one of which is stunning landscapes combining deep water and pretty high peaks around (over 2000 m.a.s.l.). There is a highly developed infrastructure: you can drive around the whole lake, passing through little towns, tiny streets and numerous campsites. Before driving around think twice: the streets are very narrow and parking space is scarce. Because of its historical background and attractiveness the lake is divided into three Italian regions: Lombardia, Veneto and Trento Alto-Adige. Each region occupies one side of the lake trying to attract as many tourists as possible. They are incredibly successful: making the lake one of the busiest holiday destinations in Italy.
If you hate crowds do not come to Garda in peak seasons. And if you expect white sandy beaches do not come at all. I went there couple of times and off-peak terms are extremely attractive. If you enjoy small towns full of color houses with window shutters and high peaks covered with snow around this is the right place for you. Here is a short list of things to do while at Garda. I hope to encourage you to visit this charming place.
Swimming in Sirmione
Sirmione is known for many things but my advice would be to take the whole day off and just relax at the rocky beach. I can tell you a secret: there is a public beach, open to everybody at the very end of this little peninsula. You just need to walk a bit (depending on where you left your car or where you’re staying) towards the north end of the peninsula, near the archeological site called Grotte di Catullo. I paste below a map so you could track the exact place where you can swim in a lake.
Remember about the usual safety precautions and enjoy the view. Och, yes, you need to remember about the swimming shoes as the bottom of this lake is rather rocky. When I went there in early september it was still very warm but the water was cool. This lake is considerably deep so the water stays cool even in the warmest Italian summer days. There is a wooden pier at the far end of this peninsula which is very handy considering the rocky bottom of the lake. All you have to do is jumping into deep water and enjoying its cool temperature. Excellent activity for warm days.
Walk around Desenzano
The part occupied by Lombardy is chic, just as the rest of the region. The famous brands have their shops in the heart of this town making it an interesting blend of informal tourist context and elegance. You will see in Desenzano that there are people who despite the holiday surrounding dress very smart.<
Pizza in Torri del Benaco
This was a while ago but fortunately some things rarely change and Italian restaurants are one of them. My dear friends visited me while I had been living in Italy and we drove around the Garda Lake. This was a memorable trip, especially when we got stuck in a huge traffic jam for about 2 hours and while trying to find an alternative road we drove into such a narrow street that our car’s mirrors suddenly shut down. The day was lovely and we had a marvelous lunch at Osteria Centrale. Funny thing: I was trying to find the exact place of this restaurant and saw a street view on Google Maps. This was exactly how I remembered it. So, if you are around eat your pizza here. It tastes great!
If you get tired with warm and you don’t want to stay in the lake for the whole day you can always go higher to cool yourself. This is my favorite part of the Garda Lake: the proximity of the high mountains protects you from melting down under the Italian sun. PLUS you don’t need to climb to get there! All you have to do is to use a mountain cable car (funivia)! In september the temperature at the level of the lake was twice as high as at the top!
Probably Monte Baldo provides beautiful views on the lake and on the further parts of the Alps, however, I wasn’t able to see it. The pictures above show why: this was a foggy day. In any case, it was really cool up there (about 13 degrees) so the trip was absolutely worthy its price despite the lack of views.
Sitting on the bench at Riva del Garda
One of my favorite activities while travelling. Just sitting on the bench. Breathing deeply. Watching people go by. Feel the wind. And I am pretty sure that at the bench as on this photo below anyone would love it!
About the author: Agata has been always fascinated with travel literature and finally she decided she should travel herself. Up to date she visited 20+ countries focusing on Swedish Lapland, Italy, the United States, Canada and Ireland. Her blog brings interesting stories from remote and chilly locations. She is currently working on her first book about philosophy of travel. Agata blogs at nullnfull.com, you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter!
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